Alabama rig spawns new ideas

There’s nothing like a new bait, rig or technique to come along and fire up anglers.

I’m not different. When I heard about the Alabama rig, I had to check it out. I saw one last week at the Texas Toyota Bass Classic and it got me thinking.

The thing is pretty ingenious. It’s not going to work everywhere and it’s illegal in some states. But after seeing it up close and knowing the damage it can cause when bass are schooling on shad, it got me excited.

In case you missed it, the A-rig looks like an umbrella rig. It has a weighted jig trailed by five wire arms with swivel ends onto which a different lure can be attached. It was brought into the spotlight when fellow Elite pro Paul Elias blew away a FLW tournament at Lake Guntersville. He caught 102 pounds and won by 17 pounds!

In fact, every angler who finished in the top 10 was throwing it. Elias used five swimbaits as his primary lures, but you can use others as well, including spinnerbaits or grubs, or mix and match.

Multi-lure rigs are not new. They’re prominent with salmon and striper anglers, and bass anglers have used them for years – the double soft plastic jerkbait rig, the front runner on topwaters and jigs on Carolina rigs.

The double Caffeine Shad rig is one of my favorites for fishing around schools in shallow water. I rig up two of the soft jerkbaits on leader rigs, one about 14 inches and another 10 inches long. I attach the longer leader on a swivel and thread my main line through it, then tie another swivel to the end of my line, onto which I tie the 10-inch leader rigged with another Caffeine Shad. It looks like two shad trailing each other and imparts a different action to both baits. The sliding bait makes it easier to play two bass that hit on the same cast, which happens quite often.

After seeing the Alabama Rig, I’m thinking about rigging it similarly but with three Caffeine Shads.

Why not?

But the A-rig opens a whole new frontier for fishing deeper and suspended bass.

Sure, it has some limitations. It requires fairly clear water since it’s a rig that fish need to see to be fully effective. You can’t fish it around weeds, and need to be around big balls of bait and schools of bass.

It’s been deadly on bass in the Coosa and Tennessee River systems, but I can see it being just as effective in northern waters connected to the Great Lakes where schooling alewives and shad are prominent. It should work in the southeast in those blueback herring lakes, too.

I see the A-rig success spawning more new ideas and you can bet other lure companies are looking at their own version of an umbrella rig.

Some may hit the mark and others will fail, but it’s up the anglers to figure out how to make them work. That adds to the fun and intrigue of the sport – finding new ways and methods to catch bass.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

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